In 1975 the Oregon Ethics Code became effective. The Ethics Code had been referred to the people by the Legislative Assembly and it was adopted in the November, 1974 general election. The Code was a reaction to the Watergate scandal. It declared that a public office was a public trust and that public officials were prohibited from using their official
positions to obtain personal financial gain, other than official salary, honoraria or expense reimbursement.
1975 was also the year that the Oregon legislators passed a law that allowed anyone who had ever served in the legislature to retroactively join PERS. That law directly violated the Ethics Code. It was a use of the legislators’ official positions to obtain personal financial gain. During the next 20 years, numerous PERS laws were enacted that substantially benefitted PERS members, including the PERS legislators, and drastically increased the costs required to fund PERS benefits. The people of Oregon are now suffering the consequences of those conflict riddled laws.
As public trustees, Oregon legislators are required to represent the interests of the people of Oregon. A trustee with a conflict of interest must get the consent of the the beneficiaries of the trust after full disclosure of the conflict.
The legislators know how to get the approval of the people. They did that with the Ethics Code when they referred it to the people for approval. If the legislators want to be PERS members, they must get approval from the people of Oregon. Until they get that approval, they are in breach of their trust. That puts the validity of all PERS laws made since 1975 into question and subjects every PERS legislator to disgorgement of all PERS benefits received in violation of their trust.